Under Les Miles, the LSU Tigers have won double digit games in three straight seasons and six of eight total seasons since he has taken over as head coach. Last year, the Tigers finished the regular season at 10-2 with losses to Alabama and Florida and then lost their bowl game in a close one against Clemson. The three losses came by an average of just over four points per game.
LSU looks for offensive improvement in 2013 as they have brought in Cam Cameron. He had a one year run as an NFL head coach in Miami but is more well known as an offensive coordinator. His last stop was with the Super Bowl bound Baltimore Ravens but he was kicked to the curb half way through the season. Cameron has not been a hot prospect in quite a while but neither has the LSU offense. On paper it looks doomed for mediocrity but crazier things have happened and the LSU offense certainly has the weapons to make a big improvement this year.
Zach Mettenberger returns as the starter and he struggled in year one as QB1 for the Tigers (58.8% completions, 12:7 TD to INT ratio). Mettenberger certainly has the weapons to improve this year as both Odell Beckham Jr (43 rec) and Jarvis Landry (56 rec) return. RBs Michael Ford and Spencer Ware declared early for the NFL draft but the Tigers still have arguably the best set of running backs in the conference. Rising sophomore phenom Jeremy Hill came on strong at the end of the season as he had just 73 yards rushing going into the seventh game of the season and he finished with 755. Hill averaged 97.7 ypg in the final seven games and had three multi-TD games. Hill will be joined by Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue in the backfield. In addition to weapons like Beckham, Landry, Hill, Hilliard and Blue, the Tigers also return four offensive linemen.
Defense has carried the Tigers in the recent past but they could struggle to find familiarity early in the season. The Tigers lose six players off of their defense to early entry in the NFL Draft. LB Kevin Minter (130 tackles, 4 sacks), S Eric Reid (91 tackles, 2 INT), CB Tharold Simon (45 tackles, 4 INT), DT Bennie Logan (45 tackles, 2 sacks), DE Barkevious Mingo (38 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and DE Sam Montgomery (37 tackles, 8 sacks) have all taken their talents to the NFL. Those six players were responsible for 41% of LSU's tackles, 52% of their sacks and 38% of their INTs in 2012. Replacing those guys won't be easy but don't forget that LSU has recruited with the best of them under Les Miles. Scout.com ranked them #6 in 2012 and #9 in 2011. The talent is there and they will have two early tests in their first five games as they will face TCU in Texas in their first game and Georgia in Athens in their fifth game.
Can Cam Cameron have a positive effect on the stagnant LSU offense? The talent is there, will it be utilized better this season? Will guys like Anthony Johnson and Jermauria Rasco step up on the defensive line to fill the shoes of Mingo, Montgomery and Logan? Can Kwon Alexander come back from an injury in 2012 to be an impact player at LB for John Chavis and the Tigers defense? The Tigers face a lot of questions in 2013 but one constant is that they've finished in the Top 10 more often then they haven't under Les Miles and I wouldn't bet against them to do the same in 2013.
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